Tectra Automation optimises TENTE Castors' wheel assembly at Jet Park facility

Innovative use of pneumatics can optimise productivity in an almost endless list of applications in small plants and factory automation. An example of this was a wheel press supplied to leading global castor wheels manufacturer TENTE Castors by Tectra Automation at the company’s assembly plant in Jet Park, Johannesburg.

The site’s caster wheel assembly, which produces four wheel categories from 140 to 340 mm, is now a completely automated process, driven by a 200 mm-bore, 200 mm-stroke pneumatic cylinder that presses the tyres onto the metallic caster rims with 500 newton.

In what is a relatively uncomplicated but effective pneumatic system design, each press – one for each wheel size – is comprised of two 3/2-way valves with plungers that are activated remotely, as well as a single 5/2-way pilot operated valve that controls the movement of the cylinder. The jigs were custom-built by Tectra Automation using the Bosch Rexroth range of aluminium profile beams.

The result is an approximately tenfold increase in wheel assembly productivity: where the manual process of hammering the rim into the tyre required around 25 to 30 minutes per wheel to assemble, the new pneumatic wheel press produces the item in under three minutes.

It’s not just that production time has been cut to a fraction of what it was previously; “the press also facilitates far greater product consistency, and reduces waste of raw materials in the production process,” explains Joseph Ngungu, Mechatronics Technician, Tectra Automation. “The automation of a previously manual task where there was a potential risk of personal injury has also improved site and process safety.”

“As long as you have a compressor and innovative engineering skills, you can achieve almost anything with pneumatics, and this wheel press shows the diversity of pneumatics in industrial and factory applications,” Joseph concludes.

TENTE Castors’ pneumatic press speeds up production time, improves product consistency and minimises wastage of raw materials in the assembly of its castor wheels.

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